Urban Living

Binhai Eco City Plan Transforms Chinese Coast

Founded in 2010 by Danish architect Jens Holm, the New York-based HAO design firm has developed a comprehensive, eco-conscious city planning scheme that would transform the Chinese coastal town of Binhai, Tianjin into one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The 49.2 acre project was designed as part of features a museum campus, an exhibition center and fairgrounds, a sports center/arena, hotels, libraries, and a state-of-the-art financial district that blends perfectly with the area’s natural shore line park. As you…

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Fukushima Factory Becomes Aquaponic Farm

Superconductors and microchips have to be produced in a sterile environment. But what happens when a former microchip factory becomes obsolete? That’s a question facing many of Japan’s chip-makers these days, but Fujitsu has an answer to that question: If you are Fujitsu Electronics, you convert one of your excess chip factories’ sterile spaces into an indoor hydroponic growing area that is free from environmental contaminants and crop-destroying pests. That “clean room”, as it’s called, also happens to be insulated…

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Bus Top Gardens Pop Up in NYC

As part of his thesis project at NYU, graduate student Marco Castro Casio designed a garden for the top of buses Casio calls his mobile garden idea “Bus Roots”, and says it is a way of “reconnecting urban communities with nature in a practical and playful way … bus roots is a playful public transportation project that uses plants as a creative medium. It connects the citizens with their community while trying to use the least amount of resources and improving the…

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Do Urban Planners Overthink Traffic Flow? (w/ Video)

Taken in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, this video of Meskel Square is both terrifying and, oddly, reassuring- especially when you notice that the myriad cars, buses, and bikes of Addis Ababa seem to be getting through the major intersection without the inefficiency and frustration so common with the stop-and-go traffic patterns of the urban intersections Americans are probably most familiar with. All of which begs the question: do urban planners overthink traffic flow? Traffic planning is usually considered…

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Vertical Garden Exhibit at Chicago MSI

Green roof design is becoming popular all over the world, but this vertical garden conceptual model – part of the Fast Forward exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) – takes the concepts of aquaponics, locally-grown produce, and urban farming to new heights by stuffing all those things into a single, “green” skyscraper. Vertical farming, which some experts claim uses just 1/6 of the resources required by conventional “flat” farming to produce a given quantity of produce, is…

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detroit urban farm

Detroit to Build Massive, 150 Acre Urban Farm

Nine million dollars, per square mile, per year. That’s what it costs the city of Detroit to simply maintain the vacant property they ended up with when the city’s economy dried up and the population bailed. That adds up to more than $360 million, total, that the recently bankrupt city of Detroit needs to pony up- and it’s $360 million the city simply does not have. That’s where Hantz Farms comes in. Hantz Farms proposed a plan to take several…

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Hugelkulturb infographic how-to

Hugelkultur Offers Benefits to Urban Gardeners

Hugelkultur is wood, buried in soil. That’s the extra-condensed version of the story, anyway- the slightly longer version explains that the techniques behind Hugelkultur allow more plants and crops to be grown in a given horizontal space, giving each plant more sun and more nutrients with less labor and, in some cases, without digging at all. That’s good news for places like Florida, where, if you start digging, you’ll hit a lot limestone sooner than you think. Basically, Hugelkultur encourages…

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urban planning cemetery design

Cemeteries and the Future of Urban Planning

Everybody poops, and everybody dies. Those are two of the most critical things anyone in urban planning has to keep in mind when they’re planning, you know, urbans, because every single human, cat, dog, and horse that will be living in the futuristic utopia they’ve designed will, eventually, poop/die. Pleasant thought, that – but, as we press on towards to a better and more sustainable future filled with rooftop gardens and passive houses, we do actually need to address the…

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rooftop farm UK urban renewal project

Aquaponic Rooftop Farm = New Age Fish and Chips

Green roofs and rooftop farming are some of the latest buzzwords of green architecture, but the guys behind Something & Son in Folkestone, England are taking it a step further. They’ve set up an advanced aquaponic system on the roof of their building, and they’re using the fish to help raise potatoes. In other words: it’s a fish and chips restaurant. Something & Son have literally built a Fish & Chips style storefront on the roof of their building, and…

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Brooklyn's First Passive House Condo

Brooklyn’s First Passive House Condo is On Its Way

Built and designed by (certified passive house architect) Paul Castrucci, Architect, and Ray Sage of Race Age, Inc., the R-951 Residence currently going up in Brooklyn is the latest passive house project going up in the neighborhood. Unlike most, however, R-951 is a condo featuring 3 distinct family residences / units. The three unit walkup/condominium is being called “a unique project”, and features an ultra-efficient design built in concert with a net-metered, rooftop solar energy system. Those solar panels should…

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sweden city planning saves lives

This Swedish City Planning Strategy Saves Lives

Utah, Minnesota, and Washington have seen traffic fatalities decline by up to 40%, thanks to campaigns to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist deaths to zero. Aptly named “Vision Zero” and modeled by similar programs launched in Sweden, where pedestrian deaths have dropped by more than 50% since the plan was implemented, it’s hoped that these city planning strategies will allow cities like Portland and Chicago to replicate Sweden’s success. Vision Zero, however, is very much a national program. In New…

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Community Project Transforms Brazilian Bus Stops

Public transit is a major issue in any city, with obstacles like rising infrastructure costs, conflicting schedules, and pollution from old-style city buses making the topic a formidable one for governments and populations alike. Residents of many of Brazil‘s largest cities have one more problem to contend with, however: there’s almost no way to know what bus stops at what stop. That’s right. In many parts of Brazil there are no signs or schedules posted at the cities’ bus stops,…

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Chicago Urban Renewal

Chicago is Selling Vacant Lots for $1 Each

Despite the city’s thriving neighborhoods and generally climbing real estate values, certain areas of Chicago look more like most people’s conception of Detroit than Lake Shore Drive. Indeed, shuttered homes and vacant lots overgrown with grass and weeds are pretty common in areas like Englewood – but the city has come up with a new way to fight that deterioration and give back to the community at the same time: Chicago is selling those vacant and abandoned lots, for as…

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Minneapolis light rail

Light Rail Gets a Green Light in Minneapolis

Last week’s “yes” vote by the Minneapolis City Council marked the final local consent needed for the city to move ahead with the proposed Southwest light rail project. The new, $1.6 billion commuter line would connect the Eden Prairie neighborhood with downtown Minneapolis. Despite the landmark vote by the City Council, however, the new line is far from a finished reality. When the deal was announced, council member Elizabeth Glidden said the stations are in “challenging locations” because they are…

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